I swore I’d never be one of those people. The ones who cry and write about a famous person dying. Yet here I am, crying and writing. It came from an unexpected yet completely understandable source. A person who I had unknowingly locked away in my subconscious and who was, as I found out, still living there in full technicolour.
Yesterday the mighty Keith Flint of The Prodigy was found dead at home from an apparent suicide. Mr Braingirl told me the news after seeing it on social media. Initially I don’t think I understood what was being said. I just said something along the lines of ‘oh no, that’s terrible’. Then as it sunk in I became increasingly saddened by what I’d heard.
Keith and The Prodigy were a HUGE part of my 90’s experience. A snapshot in my history where summers were long, life was endless and anything was possible. I think a lot of people had that experience in the 90’s especially the early part (91-95). I was a crusty grunger, all dreadlocks and charity shop layers. I had discovered legal (and some not so legal!) ways of juicing every last drop of joy and adventure out of life. I primarily listened to guitar music, the heavy, melancholy, angst ridden stuff. Then along came Keith, Liam, Leeroy and Maxim. The gateway drug to my raving. A world of drum n’ bass, breakbeat and acid techno.
The Prodigy were electronic music but they were also punk as f**k. They are one of the few acts that leapt through musical barriers. Crusty punk metal techno ravers. Liam is a genius who melded all his musical influences into one snarling, wild, genre-defying, aggressive, kick you in the nuts musical beast. Liam was the musical genius and Keith was the in your face conduit of that genius. I remember when Firestarter was released and how Keith was perceived as ‘scary’ by the establishment, I never thought Keith was scary, he was exciting and inticing. They were just as awesome (if not better) live as on record. I saw them live a few times, I think my first experience was Glasto ‘95. I scaled the wall and stayed for nearly a week. It was the second summer of love and I remember it well. A scorching hot Summer and a time when I was loving life and embracing freedom.
Seeing The Prodigy live blew my mind, they gave it everything, a sonic blast to the soul. A band that froze time and made you feel free. They were anti-establishment, no apologies, the flag bearers for the Criminal Justice Bill protests and a place where, no matter what music you liked we all brushed shoulders in that crowd and LOVED The Prodigy. A band not for the suits and the music business, they were a band for the people. The Prodigy made you feel like you were part of something much bigger than yourself. We were a moshing, pogo-ing ecstatic family.
So losing Keith is a great personal loss for his band mates and family but it is also a massive loss for a point in history. The last dance of the mad bastards. A time before music started to become safe and about image and celebrity. A time where you could stand in a field and get your face melted off and have the best time of your life. It is also, and I didn’t know it until yesterday, selfishly, a great loss for me. Losing Keith also feels like I’ve lost an old part of myself, the part that felt invincible and immortal and knew that music transcended all the bullshit. A snapshot of braingirl, 18 yrs old in 1995, kicking arse and taking names. Something The Prodigy and Keith personified for me.
I smiled this morning as I thought of all the stereos in houses and cars across the world blasting out The Prodigy yesterday, all remembering and being grateful for the memories and the moment in time that The Prodigy came rocketing into their lives.
Rave In Power Keith. The world is a little less brave and colourful today.
My condolences to everyone who is feeling a bit broken by this news.